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(CNN) – Actor Eric Dane is the captain of TNT's new series "The Last Ship."
TNT is owned by Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.
The show's premise is a worldwide pandemic decimating the population. Who better than Dane, a former TV doctor, to helm the planet's last safe haven?
Dane played "Dr. Mark Sloan" on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," but many fans remember him best as "McSteamy," a moniker the actor says doesn't bother him.
"It got me where I am today," Dane tells CNN.
Now, the 41-year-old actor is moving on to the type of role he says every actor ultimately wants to play: A hero bringing people together in order to save the world.
"I love the character. I love being on the right side of things for once," Dane says.
"The Last Ship" is Hollywood's latest attempt to balance traditional military pomp, with more realistic grit. Dane plays a commander in the U.S. Navy.
"The military as portrayed in the media, and as portrayed in Hollywood are two entirely different things," the actor said. "Hollywood always portrays them as larger-than-life, principled heroes, which more or less they are."
"My father was in the Navy. I have a great amount of respect for those who do sacrifice themselves to protect," says Dane.
But like maverick military roles from "Top Gun" to "Homeland," his character isn't always well-behaved.
"I don't necessarily think this guy wants to be in the circumstances he's in. I think he's a reluctant hero," said Dane. "At the same time, he can't let his desire to get back to his family – which is probably his number one priority – get in the way of the primary goal which is to ... save what's left of the world."
Stepping into a role where he commands several hundred people is a welcome departure from his day-to-day life.
"It's kind of fun being the commanding officer because everybody has to do what I say. When I'm at home, my wife's the commanding officer, and I'm the one taking orders," Dane says.
The real commander of the last ship however, is executive producer Michael Bay, the powerhouse behind reluctant-hero flicks like "Transformers" and "Armageddon."
"It's never fun seeing the burning embers flying straight at your face, and you have to kind of stay still, and pretend like none of it bothers you," said Dane.
"The Navy's been really good at, at kinda showing us how it's done," said Dane. "We have an armorist and we have Navy SEALs, and we have a whole group of people that facilitate and advise," he says.